Von Doviak, Scott. Charlesgate Confidential. New York: Hard Case Crime, 2018. 384p. ISBN 978-1-78565-717-7. $22.99 Mystery

[DEBUT] The still unsolved heist of 13 artworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990 forms the backbone of Von Doviak’s debut, a stylish crime novel that cycles repeatedly through three historical periods. In noirish 1946 (the date used for the theft), inept but deadly gangsters tangle both before and after the heist; in druggy 1986, the escapades of a student journalist and his college dormmates imperil them all; and, finally, in upscale 2014, a resourceful detective, suspended for having an affair with a suspect, uses forensic skills as he tries to solve a murder that may be connected to the heist. In addition to greed and murder, the element that unifies the whole is the real-life Charlesgate, first a decaying Gilded Age hotel in Boston’s Back Bay, home to prostitutes and mobsters, then a college dormitory, reputedly haunted, and finally a high-end residential condominium. The question is who among the building’s denizens is willing to kill to find the art and will anyone succeed? Von Doviak once lived in the Charlesgate and anchors the novel to Boston via landmarks and multiple references to the up-and-down Red Sox.VERDICT The chronological sequence, repeated numerous times as the plot unfolds, facilitates cliffhangers and provides a pleasing variety of events, all smoothly narrated. For fans of noir, in particular those nostalgic for Ed McBain, Lawrence Block, Mickey Spillane, or their accomplices.

Library Journal, Xpress Reviews, September 21, 2018.


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